New Kaye Scholer Product Heads Aim to Expand Group’s Reach

February 17, 2012

Partners and Product Liability Co-Chairs Arthur E. Brown and Lori B. Leskin recently spoke to Law360 about what the legal news service called the “powerhouse” group’s recent accomplishments and future goals.

The firm continues to be highly active in multijurisdictional litigations for Pfizer, including a recent win in West Virginia for two Pfizer subsidiaries — Wyeth Pharmaceutical Inc. (Premarin) and Pharmacia & Upjohn Co. (Provera) — over hormone therapy drugs, where a jury found that the drugs did not cause the plaintiff’s breast cancer. Another significant win was for AstraZeneca, helping the client settle nearly all of the outstanding suits it faced over its schizophrenia drug Seroquel.

“Kaye Scholer first made its product liability mark when it defended Pfizer in a suit over an allegedly defective heart valve in the 1990s,” Leskin explained. “That was the mass tort we really sunk our teeth into, and we grew from there.”

However, the Co-Chairs stressed the firm’s commitment to continue to reach well beyond the medical arena in which it already excels. According to Leskin and Brown, two examples include the firm’s work for client Knauf in a remediation and settlement concerning Chinese drywall, and the representation of Jarden Corp subsidiary Rawlings Sporting Goods Co. in suits over sporting goods.

“Back when we were named The American Lawyer's product liability group of the year [in 2006], they said we were limited to pharmaceutical products. We've grown beyond that,” Leskin stressed.

Brown discussed the importance of counseling, in addition to litigation, for the firm’s clients. “Companies with pharmaceutical and medical device products want to understand these issues earlier, and they turn to people they trust,” he said.

“Clients that have faced down multiyear tort actions are especially likely to value advice that comes before the complaints do,” he added. “Very often clients will take a deep breath and say, 'Wow, that's over. Let's look back at what we did well, and what we didn't do well.' Once they understand that retrospective analysis, we are often the first on speed dial when an issue crops up.”

Finally, the Kaye Scholer Product Liability partners discussed their goals for growing the practice and deepening the bench. “Fortunately Arthur and I are both on the young side, but we want to make sure the practice continues well beyond our years. We have some bright associates, and we've challenged the group to expand their networks,” Leskin concluded.

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